“Friends forever, right?” Melanie asked.
The anxiety of the little girl was creeping up her back. Making her uncomfortable.
She always hoped she would make a best friend, and now she was hoping her soon-to-be best friend would repeat the powerful words back to her.
As the milliseconds passed, the anxiety grew stronger, growing so strong it made Melanie feel like it was about to kill her.
For only being 7 the poor girl had a terrible amount of anxiety. Much more than a girl her age should ever have, even in her entire life.
The gift of anxiety was given to Melanie by her overbearing and abusive mother. The gift became more and more overwhelming over the years, making her brain slowly crack.
But as Melanie would later say, ‘after so long, a cracking egg will start to rot from the inside, and one day it will be gone’
A complex sentence that only she understood.
“Forever and Ever!” Replied the little boy.
Those three words gave Melanie the best feeling ever. Knowing it truly was an official, she made a friend.
Within seconds, the anxiety had disintegrated and was replaced with happiness and laughter as the two of them ran over to the playground where they had just previously been.
Parker at the time did not understand the importance of the question Melanie asked, and would not understand it for a long time. At least not until it mattered the most.
Parker, even though was in the same grade as Melanie, was 1 year older.
They shared the same second-grade class this year.
Melanie who had just moved to the town after her father had passed, was very lonely and confused. But very grateful and content now that she had a friend to call her own.
As they ran around the playground, Melanie’s long chestnut-colored hair flowed in the wind.
Parker followed quickly behind her, chasing her around the slide hoping to catch his new best friend in their fun game of tag.
“You can’t catch me!” Melanie teased.
But Parker knew he could, he only slowed down to make Melanie happy. To let her think she had the upper hand, but in the case of who would be the fastest, Parker knew deep down he would win.
But the happiness of his best friend mattered so much more to him than the title of being the faster one ever would mean.
Half an hour had passed by the time Parker’s mother walked over to them, getting ready to tell them it was time to leave.
She envied their friendship. How innocent it was, and how happy they made each other. Their laughs and smiles were evidence.
She was a little saddened to ruin their fun but knew they were going to be very hungry soon. She had to make sure Melanie got home to her mother soon.
“Melanie! Parker! Time to go!” She yelled to them.
The words stung the children's ears. But for separate reasons.
Parker simply wanted to continue to play, he knew it was dinner time, and later bedtime. Parker, like any other 8-year-old dreaded bedtime.
But Melanie didn’t want to go home because she knew what awaited her when she would get home.
She knew her mother would be standing by the door, ready to slam insults into her head the second they are alone together.
Melanie and Parker slowly walked over to her, almost dragging their feet in the sand and dirt combination that covered the ground.
“What is for dinner?” Parker inquired.
Parker was hoping for his favorite, Tyson chicken strips, but was let down when she replied with ‘lasagna’.
One of the dishes he despised the most.
He hated the large squiggly noodles that were in it.
Once they got in the car, Parker’s mom filled the silence in the car with random pop music, which neither Parker nor Melanie enjoyed.
The car ride was too quick in Melanie’s opinion. Even though the car ride was 18 minutes exactly. But in her mind, anything under 4 hours was short when she knew what she was heading home to.
The 18 minutes felt like 30 seconds in Melanie’s mind.
Once the ‘30 seconds’ had passed, Melanie looked out the window and saw her house. The one that was filled with color and beauty from the outside.
But the inside was filled with hatred and abuse.
“Alright sweetheart, here is your stop.” Parker’s mom said.
She at the time didn’t know how Melanie felt toward her mother. She would eventually figure out small pieces years into the future.
Nobody ever found out much, simply because Melanie was embarrassed and saddened by the state of her home life.
Melanie also had a very kind, loving, and very forgiving nature. Which for years caused her to forgive and still love her mother even after everything she put Melanie through.
Melanie slowly grabbed the car door and opened it. Once opening it, she looked at the house once more, now noticing that the front door was open, and her mother stood in the doorway, awaiting her daughter's return
Once Melanie was out of the car, she slowly made her way up to the door. Dreading the second she entered the house and the door closed behind her.
Before she stepped onto the front porch, she turned around and looked back to where the car was parked.
Parker was looking at Melanie with a huge smile on his face.
He was going to miss his friend, and would impatiently await the next time they would hang out. Which would be tomorrow to be exact, as tomorrow was Monday, and was yet another day of school for both of them.
Melanie eventually turned back to the front door and made her way inside. Finally having enough strength to walk in.
She walked into the house and past her mother. She stopped in the middle of the room and waited for the sound of the closing door until she turned around to face her mother.
Her mother’s face was blank, expressionless. But Melanie could almost read her mind.
Her mother knew even the painful silence between them caused Melanie discomfort. She kept it quiet as long as she could, to make her daughter as upset and wary of the situation as possible.
Melanie looked into her mother’s eyes, pleading for her mother to finally say something and break the horrible silence between them.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, her mother spoke, “I don’t know why you hang out with him so much Melanie. Men are useless, weak, and stupid. He will leave you just like your father did to me,”
Melanie moved her gaze to the floor, as she no longer wanted to look at her mother. But Melanie could feel her mother’s eyes locked onto her.
“You are so weak. I wish you were more like me. Strong and confident. But no, you are weak and useless just like your father. Such a shame it is, I will no longer waste my time on someone like you.” Her mother added.
Melanie’s mind was racing. She wanted to talk back. To speak her mind freely. But she always felt this way. And all the times before similar conversations occurred, Melanie stayed silent.
“I wish your father would’ve taken you with him,”
Melanie had never been so hurt by words before then by what her mother just said.
Melanie thought back to a year ago when the home that she started in was filled with cops, and their red and blue lights lit up the house and the entire neighborhood.
How the ambulance and fire department truck sirens claimed her ears for hours.
Now, every time she hears a siren, she thinks back to this time.
It was a hot summer day. Melanie was in the house eating the peanut butter and jelly sandwich her mother just prepared for her.
While she ate, her mother was in her younger brother's room tending to him. As he had just risen from his nap.
She had spent the time earlier playing outside in the front yard with her father.
She loved and admired her father. After playing for hours, her mother called her in for lunch. Melanie’s father told her to go inside and eat, and that they resume playing shortly after.
Melanie said goodbye to her father, as she walked inside. She heard the garage door open and close and knew that her father was now working in the garage.
Her father spent a lot of time there. Usually working on woodwork that he had grown fond of.
Melanie enjoyed watching his woodwork.
After eating her lunch and discarding her plate into the sink, she walked over to the garage door that opened from inside the house.
She opened the door and walked into the garage.
She heard the soft old country music that filled the garage.
She looked to his workbench immediately, expecting to find him there. But to her surprise, he wasn’t at his bench. She turned around to the other side of the garage.
With being so small she only saw his feet.
It took a minute for her brain to register what was going on. But she didn’t understand why her father was doing what he was doing. Or why he wasn’t responding to her questions.
She began to talk much louder than her previous questions, assuming maybe he didn’t hear her.
It didn’t take long for her mother to come out and ask why Melanie was being so disruptive.
Melanie had never heard her mom scream like that before.
The utter shock and terror that the scream had.
Melanie turned around and saw her mother’s face. It was terror written all over it.
Before she knew it, her house was filled with kind police officers, and her house was surrounded by cop cars.
Even later in Melanie’s life, she will tell you that she doesn’t remember anything else that happened that night.
Maybe because her brain was trying to protect her. But clearly, it didn’t do a good enough job since she can still remember seeing her dad hanging from the support beam in the garage.
Coming back into reality, Melanie finally looked at her mother. Who stood in front of her with a now distasteful look on her face.
Melanie didn’t speak, but her stomach did.
Against her own will, her stomach growled.
Surprisingly her mother escorted her into the kitchen and gave her a plate of food.
Melanie wasn’t sure exactly what she expected, but what she did know was that she did not expect that.
After eating dinner, Melanie made her way upstairs and into bed.
She was physically exhausted from her park date with Parker, and mentally exhausted from her encounter with her mother.
She didn’t worry about her dirty clothes or her dirty teeth. She only laid in bed and closed her eyes. Wishing that the year would pass by and that soon she would be old enough to move out.